So you’re feeling a little down. You’re fatigued, gaining weight and your period isn’t quite as regular as it used to be. Sounds like perimenopause, right? Maybe — but it could be something else entirely. These common symptoms may also indicate that your thyroid isn’t working like it should.
The thyroid, a gland in the front of the neck, produces hormones that regulate metabolism. When it’s underactive — a condition called hypothyroidism — the symptoms can sometimes mimic perimenopause. Shortly after the onset of hypothyroidism, you may experience changes in your menstrual cycle, fatigue, achiness, sadness or depression, constipation, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, dry skin, and brittle hair and/or nails. It’s most common in women and in people over 50.
“Essentially, the symptoms of the two entities can be similar, although hot flashes, specifically, are not classically seen in hypothyroidism,” says Matthew Levine, MD, an endocrinologist with Scripps Clinic.
A blood test can determine if your thyroid is working properly. If not, your health care provider may prescribe a hormone replacement. Many people will need to take the medication for the rest of their lives, but in most cases, their thyroid hormone will level out with proper treatment.